Canaan’s Rest represents a quiet place “set apart” for the purpose of hearing God's voice, growing in intimacy with the Lord, and being renewed in soul and spirit.

Month: June 2010 (Page 1 of 4)

July 1st

Devotions taken from Ruth Haley Barton

In our lives we all need to take time  for what is most important.
As I read an e-mail from Ruth Barton it was a good reminder.

 “It you attempt to act and do for others or for the world without deepening your own self-understanding, freedom, integrity and capacity to love, you will not have anything to give others.  You will communicate to them nothing but the contagion of your own obsessions, your aggressivity, your ambitions, your delusions and ends and means…” Thomas Merton

Spiriual formation is important for all of us. It is what Al teaches with the Nuns at Scholastica too.

“Spiritual transformation—the process by which Christ is formed in us for the glory of God, for the sake of others, and for the abundance of our own lives—is an organic process that goes far beyond mere behavioral tweaks. In this process the Spirit of God works deep and fundamental changes at the core of our being, moving us from behaviors motivated by fear and self-protection to trust and abandonment to God. From selfishness and self-absorption to freely offering the gifts of the authentic self. From the ego’s desperate attempts to control the outcomes of our lives to the ability to discern and do God’s will even when it is foolishness to the world around us.”

“Anglican theologian W.H. Vanstone once observed that the church is like a swimming pool in which all the noise comes from the shallow end.  But most of the wisdom is to be found in the deep end, among those who have taken the time and cultivated the habits and disciplines to learn to swim in deeper waters.  If we are to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, then we need the kind of sustained learning that leads us into the deep end of the pool. “

Let us take time for Him in solitude and quiet so that we may swim in the deep waters!

June 30th

Devotions from Margaret Silf’s book, At Sea With God

We are all on a journey that we might envision as a circular journey, like a voyage around the world of our own unique circumstances. This voyage seems to keep on returning us to its beginnings.  Our choices help determine whether

our personal spiral is leading upward towards the fullness of everything we are called to become, or downward into disintegration. This spiral journey reveals the windings of our own growth in wisdom and love and understanding.

 Our destination is the ocean of God’s love with its potential to transform us from who we are now into the fullness of all creation into which we are being called. “To live a life of faith is to trust the journey and to shape our choices in favor of the spiral that leads to life.”

We can learn from all that has been, to help us sail true into the waters that still lie ahead. Each of us is making a unique journey and we begin at our own home port and sail to the horizon that will reveal who we truly are before God.  We each have to deal with our wind patterns, the storms, and  both the best and worst in ourselves.  We must take the responsibility for our pathway through life, even though we journey alongside others. “When we are ready to voyage beyond the horizon, it won’t matter anymore that our boat falls apart,. We will have learned to trust the immensity of the ocean of God’s love.”

What We Pass On

A couple of weeks ago, Judy and I were with our three adult children, their spouses and children in Kansas City for three days.  It was the first time our children’s families have been together for at least three years.  Of course, for Judy and I it was a wonderful experience.  For many families this can be a regular event.  But when there is great distances between families combined with busy schedules, for other parents getting together as a family are rare and special events.  It was a great time of building relationships and getting caught up on the lives of each family.  I found myself often just stepping back emotionally to observe what was really going on and my part in the whole event.

What I came away with was the importance of leaving some markers for our lives.  That is, as Judy and I, inch up to that 70 year old mark, it seems important to keep our children informed about our health and the plans we are trying to make for our old age.  As a pastor I have witnessed the absence of that in many aging parents.  They do not give their adult children any markers to help the children navigate the senior years with their parents.  We had what I called ” a family council” at which Judy and I shared some of our plans.  We wanted to get the imput of our children regarding some matter that will become more urgent later on. 

As I think about those three days, I find myself thinking a lot about the legacy or inhertiance that I will leave behind for my children and their familes.  I am not referring only to a monetary inheritance, but more important to my mind, the spiritual inheritance of my walk with God.  I find that I need to be open and honest walking in humility, putting my trust in the Lord.  My life now become more of being then doing or even helping.  If there are issues unresolved I have the responsibility to bring them into the open.  If there are family secrets or “black holes” that our children wonder about, then Judy and I should be as forthcoming as we possibly can be.

In this regard, Psalm 37 has always been a Psalm that has spoken to me about inheritance and leaving a legacy.  Especially I refer to verses 25-26. “I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread.  They are always generous and lend freely; their children will be blessed.”  I can not emphasize enough the need to be in right relationship with your children and their families as you grow older.  Be open about your hopes, and aspirations as you go into these “golden years.”  Above all, reflect upon and ask God to give you the grace to leave a godly legacy with your children’s families.  It is on the heart of God that fathers be a blessing to their children, rather than a hinderance.  Remember the words of Malachi, which are the last words of the Old Testament.  “See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes.  He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse.”

June 29th

Devotions from Margaret Silf’s book, At Sea With God

Do you ever feel like you’re stuck and not going any where, like being adrift on the sea? It could be that we are stopped in our tracks by illness or injury or we’ve lost our vision and sense of direction. Or maybe we feel like we’re going around in circles or we’ve had to change our plans radically. Whatever form of feeling stuck may take, we feel helpless and wonder if God is still there. It may force us into a time of waiting for the breeze that might lift us beyond the stagnation we feel. “Prayer can be the means of taking the salty, sometimes corrosive or destructive experience of our everyday life and distilling it into something fresh and live-giving.”  God can recycle our experience, showing us what is to be fostered and life-giving and what is destructive to us and to be set aside. As this fresh water falls upon us and our circumstance, it brings new growth to our hearts and cleansing and refreshing. Why not start the habit of noticing God’s presence and action in everyday things, the people around us and the ordinary events that happen to us.  Notice the ways in which God has rewoven the brokenness of our experience to help us live a fuller life. It may help to spend time in creation without trying to solve problems, to read an inspiring book, to listen to music that nourishes us in our depths, or visit a spiritual friend. Remember we have the Bedrock that will hold us and is the source of our eternal lives!

June 28th

Devotions from Margaret Silf’s book, At Sea With God

As we voyage on the sea of life, we may be hit by storm-force winds that surprise us and challenge us.  We can never really be prepared for them. They can be an unexpected turn of events that demands a radical rearrangement of our lives, or in interpersonal conflict, a family crises etc. The effects of storms can be far-reaching and sometimes we are left feeling alone and isolated, with our energy being sapped. At such times of turbulence it is good to make space to regularly be still and to reflect and pray. It is a time to ask for clear vision, energy, and focus for what is most essential in our journey. When there is a break in the storm, we can take the opportunity to get our bearings, and to reconnect with the world around us, responding to its needs and allowing it to nourish us. The storms have a way of helping us to deepen our trust in the Lord as we have to let go of our old understanding of what makes us “secure”  in order to discover a new layer of solid ground in Him. Perhaps we can gain insight and growth out of the stormy times in our lives even more so than the smooth stretches.

May we hear the silent assurances in the midst of our storms urging us to venture further, across the water in Faith.

June 26th

Devotions from Margaret Silf’s book, At Sea With God

As we voyage on the sea of life the wind speed and wind direction may change without notice… something may happen out of the blue, or a word may be spoken that pitches us in a new direction.  We may ask ourselves if this sudden wind change furthers our journey with the Lord or if it hampers it. If it furthers it, we can run with it. But if it hampers it, we need to work against it.  We need to be reflective if we are to monitor these shifts and be aware of the people, events, and movements all around us, catching the positive winds and standing firm against the gust that might blow us over. We respond to the wind flux by using the rudder. Perhaps the rudder is our deepest, most authentic wisdom, which is the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. It is what gives purpose and meaning to life. It is the way we implement the course changes we may need to hold true.  When we are at home with the wind and the waves, we can trust the movements of our circumstances and the process through which we are becoming the person God is dreaming into being. “To sail sensitively is to cooperate with that becoming, moment by moment, and to trust it.”

Let us be quiet before Him and listen so we can hear Him more clearly and become that true person!

June 25th

Devotions from Margaret Silf’s book, At Sea with God

As we voyage on the sea of life there are deep, invisible underwater currents that can pull us in a positive or a negative direction. They can even rip our vessel apart. Currents tend to be strongest where there is some kind of constriction. In our spiritual journey we may be able to detect their presence with the benefit of hindsight, and it is good to take time to notice deep currents that may be revealed. It could be an issue that drags us off course or an overreaction.  So many of the currents that affect us are invisible and may carry us along sometimes against our own better judgment. An example may be the subtle power of advertising that seems to seduce us to generate artificial desires that undermines our core desire to live God’s dream.  If we are in a turbulent tide zone right now, we need to take an anchor and use it to hold ourselves steady and to take stock of what is going on. This anchor is primarily time for prayers and reflection, time to be still with God as the ground of our being.  An anchor might also be a friend with whom we can share our experience or a place where we can reconnect to our own roots.

June 24th

Devotions from Margaret Silf’s book. At Sea With God

As we voyage with the Lord, what really matters is that we are trying to live true to the deepest alignment of our souls to God. As we do this, it becomes an attractor to encourage others to seek out their own deepest alignment.  Most of us know people like this, who, we feel, are deep down living true to themselves.  It helps us to trust and make our life choices with reference to our innermost compass too. They can be like a lighthouse for us to navigate life’s seas. They beam out a steady signal and these signals can help us to steer our boat. Let us in the core of our being, seek to live in alignment with all that is truest within us. Then what we experience as a powerful flow tide can usually be trusted to bring us closer to the destination of who God has dreamed us to be. The tides that generate feelings of unease will usually be indicative that we are running off course.  May God help us to learn to work against the negative movements that tend to pull us off course and flow instead with what is of Him.

June 23rd

Devotions from Margaret Silf’s book, At Sea With God

As we voyage with the Lord on the sea of life we need to pay attention to our position and direction. The lines of latitude that guide our journey may be such things as studying scripture, observing the Sabbath, accepting doctrine and creeds etc. The longitude lines add a second dimension and have more to do with our direct relationship with God that may be discovered in personal prayer, and discernment of the best course.  We might be asking what does God have for us here and now?  God is our fixed point and we can trust absolutely in Him who is both with us and beyond us. It is the Holy Spirit who enables us to discern our true alignment, where God within us is tuned to God beyond us. God within us dwells in our hearts, giving us a sense of harmony when we are living true to ourselves, and warning us with a sense of unease when we are being untrue to ourselves.  The God beyond is present to us like a lighthouse, beaming out a unique signal that is meant just for us.   Let us learn to live reflectively so we can discover the compass point of our soul’s direction.

Don’t Quit

Have you ever wanted to quit?  You ask, “Quit what?”  Quit trying to be a nice, descent, spiritual guy.  This is the “nice guy” whom the church rewards for being “a good man.”  The nice guy knows he is operating more in his own strength then that of the Lord’s.  I have learned from hard experience that you can keep up the “spiritual” practice of being nice for only so long.  My personality is notorious for trying to be nice.  When I have not been nice, I slip into self-denial, which can at times plunge me into self-hatred.  I start “beating myself up” spiritually.  I become discouraged and resolve to try harder.  It becomes a endless cycle, that I am slowly reversing with God’s help.  I am not out of the woods yet, but I am making progress.

Two things have been of great help for me on my journey.  First is the inner awareness that God loves me as I am, not as I should be.  I am his “beloved sinner.”  Secondly, this has helped me to be honest about what is going on within my soul, that deep, mysterious place within.  It is not that I have to go “fishing” for what is wrong.  That would get me into what Leanne Payne calls “the disease of introspection.”  I have been afflicted wiwth this disease all my life.  I would spend time looking in on myself through my own eyes.  My perspective is desperately flawed by my distorted thinking, causing me to not be objective but filled with illusions about myself that are not true.  This easily plunged me into the darkness of my own diseased attitudes and feelings about myself.  While God wants me to be aware of what is going on in my soul, he does not want me to go to that dark, sorted place of condemnation.

This practice has caused me over the years to be fearful of what is really in my “deep spiritual tank.”  But knowing that I am loved as I am in the good, bad and ugly, I have begun to get in touch with my God give desires and passions, which haved layed buried beneath m distorted image of myself.  George Herbert observed, “He begins to die, that quits his desires.”  Men, let me give testimony to the fact that when we allow ourselves to become aware of our soul, we will begin a  journey into foreign territory.  We will have to fight for our souls.  We will not want to be exposed.  John Eldredge observes, “Every man fears being exposed, to be found out, to be discovered as an imposter, and not really a man.  If there’s one thing a man does know he knows he is made to come through.  But he fears that he will fail.”

Eldredge asks men, “are words like strong, passionate, and dangerous words you would choose” to describe ourselves?  Do we have strength to offer the world?  Will we be abel to come through?  The answer is yes.  Our strength comes from the Lord.  This strength is not an idea in our mind or a habit we practice.  It is an awareness of the Lord at the center of our hearts, giving us what we need for the masculine journey.  This awareness becomes evident to us as we are willing to pay attention to our souls.  Listen to Paul’s encouraging words. “God can do anything you know – far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams!  He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us” (Eph. 3:20-21 – The Message).

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